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Title: Governance, economic performance and popular welfare in Africa: is the link clear?
Authors: Mbodo, Olivier M.
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL)
Abstract: After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the process of democratization was back in Africa once again1. Today, every country in the whole continent had undertaken or expressed (even by being forced) the will to undertake the democratization process2. The reason? After 30 years of authoritarian regimes which have led the countries to bankruptcy, the democracy has been seen by many as a panacea, as the only thing that will bring African countries to both economic growth and popular welfare. My purpose is to see, in an African framework, whether the link between democracy, economic performance and popular welfare is clear. After 20 years of democratization process, it is time to ask: did the democratization process lead the African countries to reduce the inequalities between poor and rich people? The question is the most relevant, to both theorists and empiricists, because the failure to reduce mass poverty has the potential to endanger the democratization process. Francis Fukuyama notes that “[m]any democratic transitions have been stalled or threatened by the existence of large inequalities and high degrees of polarization between rich and poor.” (Fukuyama, 2012: 4.) The populism in Latin America gives us a perfect example of the phenomenon: “[…] poor people, asserts Mark F. Plattner, unhappy with their meagre share of the nation’s prosperity have been attracted by political candidates whose commitment to democracy is doubtful” (Plattner, 2012: x). In the same vein, let us quote Nancy Bermeo: “Scholars claim that […] [economic inequality] has a strong negative effect on political interest, and that it boosts support for populism, personalism, human-rights abuses, and the acceptance of authoritarian rule. (Bermeo, 2012: 18) In the following, we are going to analyse the relationship between governance, economic performance and popular welfare. Firstly, we study the link between the type of political regime (democratic/non-democratic) and the economic growth in Africa: is the link clear? Can we assume, on the basis of available data, that the African democratic countries perform economically better than the non-democratic? Secondly we study, always in a comparative perspective, the link between the type of political regime and the progress of prosperity: does the prosperity progress over the time in Africa regardless to the type of political regime? To conclude the analysis, we discuss the paradox of economic growth that we see in Africa and its risk.
ISBN: 978-989-732-364-5
Appears in Collections:CEI-CLN – Autoria de capítulos de livros nacionais

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